Trump Tower Is Suing the Estate of the Art Collector Who Died in the Building’s Fire Earlier This Year

Todd Brassner was a close friend of Andy Warhol's.

First responders assess the scene of a fire at Trump Tower on April 7, 2018 in New York City. Art collector Todd Brassner died in the four-alarm blaze, which broke out on the 50th floor. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.
First responders assess the scene of a fire at Trump Tower on April 7, 2018 in New York City. Art collector Todd Brassner died in the four-alarm blaze, which broke out on the 50th floor. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

The board of the Trump Tower, where collector Todd Brassner died in a fire this spring, is suing his estate for unpaid condo charges in an amount totaling $90,000. Brassner, who lived alone, had been having trouble keeping up with the building’s pricey maintenance fees and filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

Brassner, age 67, moved into the 50th-floor apartment in 1996. He died April 7 when an electrical outlet broke out in his apartment, which did not have a sprinkler system—because the unit was built in 1983, one is not required by law—or a smoke detector. (President Donald Trump had lobbied against a city regulation that would have required retrofitting older buildings with sprinklers.) Fire investigators attribute the blaze to an overloaded power strip.

On Tuesday, Trump Organization attorney Sonja Talesnik filed a complaint on behalf of the Residential Board of Trump Tower Condominium in the Supreme Court in New York County, reports the Washington Post. Brassner allegedly owes more than $64,600 in unpaid common charges, including maintenance and utilities fees from the months since his death. The suit also seeks a judgment of at least $25,000. Heather and Aaron Brassner are the executors of the estate, which is currently being litigated in Surrogate’s Court, according to the New York Post.

The owner of hundreds of vintage guitars, ukuleles, and other instruments, as well as a multimillion-dollar art collection featuring Robert Indiana and Jack Kerouac, Brassner had been close with Andy Warhol. The Pop art great even painted the collector’s portrait, allegedly worth $850,000, in 1975.

Art collector Todd Brassner with a portrait that Andy Warhol made of him. Photo courtesy of Todd Brassner via Facebook.

Art collector Todd Brassner with a portrait that Andy Warhol made of him. Photo courtesy of Todd Brassner via Facebook.

“Todd was an utter expert on Pop art,” said his friend, collector Stuart Pivar, to the Art Newspaper.

As Brassner fell into financial difficulties, he reportedly tried to sell his condo, valued at $2.5 million. But after the 2016 election, with armed security guarding Trump’s New York residence at all times, he was not able to find a buyer.

Trump failed to offer condolences to Brassner’s family after the fire, but did take the opportunity to tout the building’s construction. “Fire at Trump Tower is out,” he wrote on Twitter—even as the fire department fought to extinguish the flames. “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”


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